By Andy Morgan
Last week I was in Jacksonville Florida on a prayer retreat at Christian Healing Ministries, along with 13 other clergy from the Diocese.
I confess that as the date to leave drew near, I did not want to go. The busyness of life and ministry and the inconvenience and disruption of having to leave my family for four days left me regretting my decision to accept the invitation. In fact, as my wife drove me to the airport on Monday, my son said in the car, “Why doesn’t dad just say he is sick and not go,” which Kitty replied, ‘Because that would be lying!!”
However, I am extremely glad that I did go, and very grateful to the Bishop for the invitation. The prayer retreat and the ministry I received was a powerful time, not just personally to me but in emphasizing the power of prayer and the need we have for prayer—intercessory prayer, healing prayer and just-sitting-and- waiting prayer.
I have often quoted Charles Spurgeon’s axiom that prayer is the engine room of the church. The four days in Jacksonville reiterated this to me in a powerful way.
Acts 2:42 says, “They [the early church] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
The word devoted means: persisted in, adherence, or intently engaged in. The implication is that it is not always easy and there are times when you have to battle to do that. In other words, we can re-read this passage, “and they persisted in and were intently engaged in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Notice that the early Christians were devoted—that is they persisted and intently engaged in prayer. They understood that this is one of the foundations of the Christian walk. They understood that if they were going to achieve anything, if they were going to accomplish the things God had set for them to do and to be the witnesses that they were called to be, they had to be devoted to prayer—they had to persist in it, even when they did not feel like praying, or when the pressures were such that praying was the last thing on their mind.
Why is prayer so hard at times? Because it is the most basic form of spiritual warfare—spending time with God, seeking his heart, receiving from God and asking God for those things ‘necessary for the body as well as the soul,’ brings us into direct opposition with the devil. He will do everything he can to stop you praying with any power.
While we all know that we SHOULD pray, not all of us realize that we NEED prayer. As you know, on the first Sunday of each month we have a time of healing prayer after the service. We encourage anyone who has any need to come forward and receive prayer with the laying on of hands. What I realized in Jacksonville is that we ALL have wounds, and hurts and worries and concerns and frustrations and struggles and so we ALL need healing prayer. We all need to have a place that we can go and receive prayer for the things which have hurt us. One priest on the retreat, when sharing his testimony to the whole group, put it so well when he talked about those small “slaps, and punches” which we all receive in life that cause little wounds. Over time they add up and they accumulate into significant hurt— hurt which needs to be healed and released.
So, I want to encourage you to be devoted to prayer; yes in your private prayer life and yes in our corporate prayer life. But I also want to encourage you to be devoted to, to persist in receiving healing prayer from others. We all have those small hurts, wounds and scars which we need to bring to the Lord so that they don’t get infected, or make us bitter or angry. It’s so easy to think “I don’t need healing prayer.” I thought that too before I got on the plane to Jacksonville. But actually we all need the ongoing healing touch of the Lord.
The Rev. Andy Morgan is rector of Christ the Saviour Anglican Church, Mt. Vernon, VA.